Pro bono group looks at referral scheme

A NATIONAL solicitors' pro bono referral scheme with a quality franchise system is on the agenda at the new Solicitors Pro Bono Group.

The group, formed by an alliance of leading law firms who were frustrated by the Law Society's historic unwillingness to co-ordinate pro bono activity within the profession, began its work in earnest last week after its first director, Peta Sweet, took up her post.

Sweet, the former news editor of the Solicitors Journal, will spend the first six months of her job ascertaining the extent, quality and varieties of pro bono work currently being offered by law firms.

An initial aim will be to draw up some good practice guidelines to help firms which are already doing pro bono work or are thinking of setting up a scheme.

But a longer-term goal will be the drawing up of a national referral scheme which people can approach if they are in need of pro bono help.

“Ultimately we could adopt a franchise scheme whereby solicitors have to fulfil certain standards,” said Sweet.

“We have to ensure that the people who give the advice are the experts.”